Last spring, I began to realise that getting ahead of ageing had become the ultimate status symbol. I was sitting in the Harvard Medical School office of the elfin biologist David Sinclair, whose team had reversed signs of ageing in the tissues and muscles of elderly mice. Sinclair was talking excitedly about the various compounds he and other scientists were working on, which aimed to trigger ancient protective circuits in the body. The night before, he told me with some glee, he had been across the river giving a talk to Harvard donors. While outwardly sceptical of his claims, many quietly asked him over drinks which pills — whether licensed as medicines or not —they should be taking. The race for the anti-ageing pill is just one consequence of the two demographic shifts that are transforming our world. Longer lifespans and declining birth rates — as fertility plummets almost everywhere outside sub-Saharan Africa — constitute the most dramatic story of our age. Shrinking ageing p...

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